Seriously, what just went through your mind? Did you think, “Oh my goodness, I have so many volunteers I don’t know where to start! They are falling over themselves trying to get into Children’s Ministry. They are even showing up with clearances and child safety certifications in hand!”
No? Are you smiling a bit?
I mean, come on, seriously, let’s be real. Finding and keeping quality volunteers is a challenge in every ministry but I think it is especially rough on Children’s Ministers because it is intense, active, hands-on work with little people who can, quite frankly, be a little scary to big people. There is a plethora of wonderful books and resources available for recruiting, appreciating, and developing a strong team of volunteers, but I have found it really all starts in one place – tapping into the heartbeat of your church.
For instance, if your church has a strong mission or outreach focus, giving the congregation information (overload) about how most conversions happen before the age of 12 thus the best mission work is done with children can be a message for them that is on point.
If they have a strong affiliation to worship, repeat the message that Jesus gave us to not hinder children coming to him and give them the opportunity to be part of the solution. Make serving in Children’s Ministry a relevant message to what they already feel called to as a church. Be part of the bigger vision of the church.
There are a few other things I have found helpful in developing that strong team by building on initial foundation of aligning with the church’s vision.
1. Hold a Recruiting Month once a year with a relevant theme (this year we even had a hashtag) and spend the first 3 Sundays building up to your sign-up with short testimonies, videos, articles in the newsletter, insert in the bulletin, etc. Giving the church 3 Sundays to “prayerfully consider” their part in “God’s kingdom” usually leads to a good number of new volunteers.
2. Make your staff visible and a fun team to be on – We give all of our volunteers tee shirts, have special trainings with food and a coffee hour each week just for them, cheer for each other on in the hallway, and we just make being in KidMin as fun as possible for our volunteers.
3. Provide breaks for regular volunteers – This summer we offered ALL of our regular volunteers a “sabbatical” for June and July. Funny thing is, most didn’t even take the break, but the fact that it was offered was so meaningful to them that most of them offered to work MORE!! And everyone so far who has turned in their slip has indicated that they will also be willing to work VBS.
4. “Pause” a program – Yes, I’ve had to do that. I’ve had to send a message to the congregation that due to lack of volunteers, we will have to put a program on pause for (specified time) until enough people are found to serve. It is a hard thing to do but at the same time, it’s not healthy for the kids to be in a program that is understaffed and it’s not healthy for a church to have overworked volunteers.
Of course, there is no magic cure to the need for volunteers, but it is my sincere hope that these thoughts may spark some ideas in you that lead to a larger group of team members to help you shine the love and light of Christ to the youngest members of your church.